Shopping Addiction

Compulsive shopping is perhaps one of the most difficult to treat behavioral addictions due to the fact that our consumer-driven society positively reinforces this type of behavior.  As Americans, we are constantly surrounded by advertising images telling us that buying will make us happy, and we are encouraged to shop as a way of boosting the economy.  For some individuals, this type of consumerism becomes unhealthily enmeshed with their perception of self worth.  Although mainstream consumerism has increased in recent years, shopping addiction is not a newly developed or diagnosed disorder.  Statistically, only about 6% of the U.S. population is thought to have a shopping addiction, which usually begins in the late teens and early adulthood.  Shopping addiction often co-occurs with other disorders and addictions, such as mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and personality disorders.  Although many individuals engage in shopping as a way to reward themselves or blow off steam, this behavior becomes a problem when shopping becomes an individual’s primary coping mechanism, to the point where they continue to shop excessively even though it is having a negative impact on other areas of their life, such as finances and relationships.  As with other addictions, the individual is unable to stop despite these negative consequences.  There are many treatment centers, such as Passages Malibu, that can help deal with shopping addiction through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and various other treatment methodologies.